Kitchener’s mayor addressed the ongoing crisis at the city’s biggest encampment on Thursday, including some of the suggestions on how to help residents as the June 30 eviction deadline nears.
That date remains unchanged, but Berry Vrbanovic said he’s open to finding more interim solutions while the Region of Waterloo works to find permanent housing for those living at the Victoria and Weber Street encampment.
The region said it is working to find shelter and supports for everyone who will be displaced, and a new 60-bed overnight shelter opened Friday at the former Edith MacIntosh Child Care Center on Stirling Avenue.
Another idea that has been put forward is finding an area for a sanctioned tent encampment.
“Could this be an option?” asked Vrbanovic. “Potentially, but I think we need to look at the full array of options, and that could include, as we did early in the pandemic, hotels. It could be another ‘A Better Tent City’ site.”
However the major warned that both the long-term and short-term goals will require funding beyond what the Region of Waterloo can provide.
“Funding will be an issue and making sure our community partners deliver the services, particularly the wraparound services, which are such an integral part of this,” Vrbanovic said.
Property taxes that municipalities collect is not meant to fund issues like the one the region is facing, so solving it will require financial help from the provincial and federal governments.
Regional council passed a motion Wednesday night to make an urgent appeal to the upper levels of government.
Vrbanovic’s comments come after a large rally and march in downtown Kitchener for those living at the encampment.